The way to keep making consistent book sales is to write on a regular basis. Authors such as Lisa Scottoline and Stephen King recommend writing every single day, but some authors have a hard time keeping a schedule because of painful hands. If your writing schedule is erratic because of occasional hand pain, it's time to take a look at ways to prevent this problem. Practice good habits and follow these tips for a relatively pain-free writing career.
- Try forearm supports. A lot of hand and wrist pain is due to the position you keep your hands while typing. Holding your wrists even with your hands is the best way to avoid pain, but it's hard to do for any length of time. Forearm supports keep your arms and wrists at the correct angle.
- Get a short manicure. If you've got long fingernails you'll naturally keep your hands in the wrong position just so you won't chip a nail on a key. Make the sacrifice and cut your nails for better hand posture.
- Use an alternative mouse. Mousekeys, while inefficient, is a way to use keys to move the mouse, and it's built into every keyboard. Try using that for a few days, or investigate the many alternate mouse varieties that work with very little to no finger movement.
- Try mouse emulation software. If moving the mouse isn't a problem, but clicking it is, try a program that clicks the mouse for you. Mouse emulation programs click a link a designated number of seconds after the mouse stops moving.
- Take frequent breaks. Stop typing at least once every fifteen minutes, and take a five minute break every hour. This allows the blood to move back into your hands, preventing that pins and needles feeling, and also gives your fingers a break.
- Sit properly. Slouching while writing is probably the largest contributor to pain for writers. Get an ergonomic chair, practice sitting up and leaning back slightly, stop hunching over the keyboard, get new glasses if you can't see far away.
- Try alternative keyboards. Split keyboards have long been labeled "ergonomic", but they may or may not help your particular case. Try soft keyboards, those with very sensitive touch systems, and alternate shaped boards to find one that fits your hands well.
- Stay away from the keyboard. Try a voice-to-text program like Dragon Naturally Speaking. There's a learning curve, but once you get proficient you can produce words on the screen without typing a letter.
- Try adjustable keyboards. Some new keyboards are adjustable, allowing users to type with their hands in a vertical position. This is much more comfortable for some writers than holding their wrists parallel to the desk.
- See your doctor. If making your work environment more comfortable doesn't help, don't hesitate to see your doctor. It's not a small thing, but a problem that affects your work life. You may have a problem that is fixable with medical intervention, or he may suggest a better solution.
Keep the Faith and may the Force be with You!